The time is perfect for the launch of Women’s Indian Premier League

Players like Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Shafali Verma have huge following and the Women’s IPL should bring in new fans

October 21, 2022 08:31 pm | Updated October 22, 2022 12:06 am IST

Indian women’s team player Shafali Verma plays a shot during the Women’s Asia Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Bangladesh, at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, Sylhet.

Indian women’s team player Shafali Verma plays a shot during the Women’s Asia Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Bangladesh, at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, Sylhet. | Photo Credit: PTI

On the day the BCCI finally decided to conduct the Women’s IPL at its annual general meeting in Mumbai, S. Sajana was playing a T20 game in the same city.

She is a 27-year-old from Wayanad, a hilly district in Kerala. Her father is an autorickshaw driver. The off-spinning all-rounder once impressed Gautam Gambhir so much that he gifted her one of his bats.

In about five months’ time, you may, perhaps, get to see her in action at the Women’s IPL. India’s female cricketers like Sajana — their number is growing fast — have been waiting for the launch of the tournament for a long time.

In the past, whenever the topic of the Women’s IPL had come up, questions used to be asked about India’s depth in women’s cricket. The domestic tournaments, such as the Senior Women’s that Sajana is playing now, will tell you that the franchises will have enough players to choose from, especially when the inaugural edition of the Women’s IPL is expected to have only five teams.

Smriti Mandhana of India in action during the 1st Royal London ODI match between England and India at The 1st Central County Ground on September 18, 2022 in Hove, England.

Smriti Mandhana of India in action during the 1st Royal London ODI match between England and India at The 1st Central County Ground on September 18, 2022 in Hove, England. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Just the other day a former India cricketer was talking to this correspondent about how impressed she was with the young talents at the Senior Women’s T20 tournament. She could see girls who were power-hitting with confidence and fielding superbly.

She has received calls from multiple men’s IPL teams, who wanted to know about the players. Some of those IPL franchises had been considering investing in women’s teams for a while.

The Women’s IPL will no doubt be a massive boost for women’s cricket in the country. It could unearth fresh talent, as we have seen in the men’s IPL, and they would get to play with and against some of the best female cricketers from around the globe.

The superstars in women’s cricket have been itching to come to India for a franchise league ever since the Women’s T20 Challenge — the precursor to the Women’s IPL — was launched in 2018. Playing alongside, and against, them is bound to help the Indians, especially the uncapped ones, become better.

Harmanpreet Kaur of the Melbourne Renegades celebrates the wicket of Elyse Villani of the Melbourne Stars during the Women’s Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval, on November 07, 2021, in Adelaide, Australia.

Harmanpreet Kaur of the Melbourne Renegades celebrates the wicket of Elyse Villani of the Melbourne Stars during the Women’s Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval, on November 07, 2021, in Adelaide, Australia. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The timing also seems to be right for the Women’s IPL, given the rise in popularity of women’s cricket in India. Players like Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Shafali Verma have huge fan-following. The Women’s IPL should bring in new fans.

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